Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daily- 1 John 1:1-2 -Expert Witness

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us...
[1 John 1:1-2]

Just like the opening of the Gospel of John, I find this passage to be a great introduction to both John’s letter and the person of Jesus Christ. However, when these opening words are translated into English the structure is complicated, so today’s study will help you to sort out John’s intended message.

First Things First
If you were to boil down 1 John 1:1-2 to its main point, what would it be?


I believe the answer is “The Life was made manifest.” If you strip away all of the other qualifiers and phrases, this is what remains. The Life appeared; it was revealed. That is John’s basic message. Is this not the message of the entire Bible? Is this not the message of every believer’s life? In a short sentence, is this not the Gospel?

Supporting Action
There are three other actions (verbs) in verse 2 that relate John with “The Life.” What are they?


John says, “we have seen it," and, “we testify to it," then finally, “proclaim to you.” The first verb is a Perfect, focusing on the accomplishment of the action. The other two are active verbs. A literal translation of these would be something like "we are testifying to it and we are proclaiming it to you."

How does he plan to accomplish all this? Well, look at the previous verse. Verse 1 is the testimony that John is speaking of in verse two. It is as though John is going to testify before a court, and he is proving his credibility as a witness concerning The Life.” He uses four “which” phrases to describe “The Life.” What are they?





(That which was from the beginning)
(which we have heard)
(which we have seen with our eyes)
(which we have looked at and our hands have touched)

The first, “that which was from the beginning,” reminds us of the opening of the Gospel of John, when he says, “In the beginning was the Word…” This connection (and many like it) helps us to verify that this book was in fact written by the same author as the Gospel of John. “From the beginning” displays the eternity of Jesus, the one of whom John is speaking.

The second, that “which we have heard,” tells us that there was a message given. John has received a teaching. Is he going to pass it on? I think so. John did say that he had something to proclaim.

“That which we have seen with our eyes” tells us that John has witnessed Jesus. This is a firsthand account. John is an authority. “We saw him with our own eyes,” he says. Likewise, the next phrase proves to clarify this even further. John uses another word for “see,” then says that they even put their hands on Jesus. The Greek here means that they felt around on him. I wonder if John was remembering when Thomas touched the holes in Jesus’ hands and slid his own hand into Jesus’ side (see John 20:27).

The Expert Witness
John and the Apostles have personally experienced “The Life.” John has spent a great deal of effort to prove that. Why? Perhaps verses 4:1 and 4:6 have a clue.


Today we have learned that John’s central message is that Jesus is the Life, and that life has appeared. John knows this because he has experienced it. The writings in his Gospel show that John walked, talked and ate with The Life. He knows this Jesus through and through.

We will see over the coming days that John has several purposes in writing this letter, but in verse 3 he will tell us his immediate purpose. Join us again tomorrow as we examine exactly what John has to say to us.